Cops will use your cold dead corpse to unlock your iPhone

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Touch ID on iPhone
The fingerprints of the dead can be used with Touch ID.
Photo: Apple

Ending years of speculation, law enforcement agencies confirm they regularly use fingerprints from corpses to unlock iPhones.

It’s only a matter of time before police unlock an iPhone X with a dead person’s face.

Many people wonder if a non-living finger could be used with Touch ID. Wonder no more; the question is settled. Police in several states told Forbes they often use fingerprints from bodies found at crime scenes to access iPhones. This allows law enforcement to notify the victim’s next of kin, but also find their co-conspirators or even their muderers.

Whether a living person can be forced to unlock their iPhone with its Touch ID biometric scanner is still being argued in the courts. There’s no question about the deceased: the bodies of those who have passed on have no privacy rights. “We do not need a search warrant to get into a victim’s phone,” Ohio homicide detective Robert Cutshal told Forbes.

Those who want privacy beyond the grave can disable Touch ID and use passcodes instead. Apple works hard to makes iPhone and iPad secure, which frustrates the F.B.I.

What about a dead body’s Face ID?

The iPhone X uses a face scanner in place of Touch ID so it potentially could scan the non-living. This Face ID biometric security system requires the eyes to look at the camera, but the eyes of the departured are often still open so this shouldn’t be an issue. (It’s possible a criminal or two already knows whether this will work firsthand.)

If Face ID has been used to unlock a murder victim’s phone (by police or law breakers) it hasn’t been reported in the news.

In criminal cases where law enforcement doesn’t have access to a fingerprint or face, they can turn to a company that specializes in unlocking iPhones, like Grayshare or Cellebrite.